Two years ago, in April of 2014, I started this series on the League of Gamemakers. At the time, I had already begun the game that would eventually become The Manhattan Project: Energy Empire. While the journey is far from over, now that Energy Empire is on Kickstarter, there is finality in that the game design phase is over.



So, how did this game go from being a bright idea to a soon-to-be-published complete game? The answer is quite simple. It’s like Han Solo turns to you and says:


Essentially, everything you have read here on the League of Gamemakers about design, pitching, playtesting, etc. has happened with this game.

There’s much more to the story of how Energy Empire came to be, but for now I will give you a few fun highlights. If you’d like to discover in detail what’s special about the game mechanically and thematically, that’s presented well on the Kickstarter page. I’m very, very happy with how this game has turned out. It’s really everything I had hoped for in a worker placement game, and the Kickstarter campaign is solid.

MPEE_Structures_gov5_pre1 copy


  • Before the game was signed by Minion Games, it was called “Drill, Baby, Drill!”
  • Tom Jolly fell in love with the game early on, and joined me to co-design and develop Energy Empire.
  • We have since designed another new game too “Beyond Jupiter” which we’re prepping to submit to publishers.
  • Energy Empire was tested at three different Protospiels.
  • Tom Jolly and I took Energy Empire to Designer-Publisher Speed Dating at Gencon.
  • Energy Empire was rejected by one publisher before Minion signed it.
  • The full length of time from conception to when it will be on store shelves is about three years.
  • You may place workers on the board on spaces that are already occupied – to do so, place energy with your worker. More crowded spaces require more energy. This is kind of like Keyflower.
  • Through development, we eliminated “Treaty” cards, which were attack-like actions.
  • Hundreds of people have play tested Energy Empire, and one core development team has played the game scores of times. No two games were ever the same.
  • Rahdo made some good suggestions that led to some nice tweaks to the two player game setup. No special rules are required for a good two player game.
  • Strangely, for many people who play tested this game, it was their first worker-placement experience. They were drawn to the theme.
  • Energy Empire uses the same approach as The Manhattan Project in that you play on the main board, and then activate your building cards. The big difference – is that there are three separate board regions that match three card types – so you are building up to three different card engines.
  • There is much less of a “take-that” feel to Energy Empire compared to the original Manhattan Project, instead the focus is on preparing for Global Impacts – inevitable crises that affect all players.